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Chinese Leader Uses Pandas, Ping-Pong, and Profits to Entice U.S. C.E.O.s

The Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, addressed a crowd of American business executives Wednesday night. Outside the San Francisco hotel where he spoke, the atmosphere was chaotic with protesters and police sirens. Inside, however, it was warm and friendly.

More than 300 executives and officials listened attentively as Mr. Xi spoke about an enduring friendship between China and the United States, using references to pandas, Ping-Pong, and the collaboration between Americans and Chinese during World War II.

Mr. Xi emphasized the importance of partnership and friendship between the two countries, which was well received by many attendees.

Amid recent concerns and tensions between the U.S. and China, Mr. Xi’s positive tone provided a stark contrast to the recent conversation about China, which has focused on potential economic and security threats. Some American businesses are still making profits in China, despite cooling enthusiasm among executives due to the country’s slowing economy and authoritarian measures favoring local competitors over foreign companies.

Supply chain disruptions during the pandemic have also led to a trend towards diversification of manufacturing locations, with some businesses reconsidering their heavy reliance on China.

During the dinner, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo acknowledged the differences between the two countries but emphasized President Biden’s stance on competition without seeking conflict or confrontation.

Mr. Xi also reiterated China’s commitment to a rules-based international system and its peaceful nature, highlighting personal connections to the United States.

The dinner, attended by prominent figures from the business world, marked a significant diplomatic effort, requiring careful planning and logistical arrangements. Despite the costs and security concerns, the event aimed to foster positive engagement between the U.S. and China.

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